33-5: Removable Cotter Pin Hinging Handle to Damper
33-6: Using a T-Square to Measure High Up.
Fireplace #33: Side-Handle Vestal Damper
These Side-Handle Vestal Dampers are not very common. The Center-Handle Vestal Dampers are much more common. They are found in masonry fireplaces of solid brick or stone. These are their characteristics:
They have a long rectangular cast iron damper frame and matching door.
The door has a short curved cast iron handle sticking down with saw teeth (image 33-1)
The damper handles can be a variety of designs (image 33-4).
The handle pushes up through a bracket to open the damper door. (image 33-2)
Handles are hinged to the damper door by a cotter pin or a bolt. (image 33-5)
The damper door closes against the frame at a 45 degree angle, and opens past vertical.
In this particular application you can see through the damper opening (image 33-1). The flue tile terminates a vertical distant of over 4 feet above the damper . This makes for a very tall smoke chamber, and tricky access to the flue tile since it is out of hands reach. There are both above the damper and below the damper install options for this application.
If you use the fireplace regularly, use the Chimella
33-7: Chimella install options
If you are looking for the easiest product to take in and out of the flue, the Chimella is the best option. But the Chimella’s spring loaded extending handle is only 24″ long. So select an area within 24″ of your reach in the flue tile or smoke chamber to install the canopy. (image 33-7)
Here are the Steps:
You will need a folding carpenters ruler folded into an L shape, or a builders T square to measure the flue tile (image 33-6) or the upper smoke chamber.
The Chimella sizes to fit when opened in the flue, so you don’t have to be exact with your measurements.
It is better to have a Chimella that is too large, than one that it too small in this application.
If the hole you are putting the Chimella in is less than 16″x16″ in width and length then use the Standard Size Chimella.
If the hole is bigger than 16″x16″, but less than 19″x25″, then use the Large Chimella.
It is important to open a Chimella properly when installing, so it gets a tight fit. Here is a Video to see how the Chimella works. Pay close attention the the part of the video about tightening the collar with the purple dot on it.
If you want to plug it and forget it, use the Flueblocker
33-8: Flueblocker cut for handle
If you don’t use your fireplace very much, and you just want a way to plug the flue tightly for a long duration, then go with a Flueblocker. It seals and insulates very well, but you will have to remove the damper door to fit it properly. The Flueblocker will replace your metal damper door, and it will do a better job.
33-9: Flueblocker Hemmed Edge
With pliers, straighten and pull the cotter pin that holds the damper handle to the damper door (image 33-5). Then remove the damper handle. If the handle is bolted on and can’t be removed (image 33-2), then follow the instructions above for a Chimella or below for a Chimney Balloon.
With the handle removed, you can push up on the damper door. It is now unhinged and free, since it is just setting in the frame by gravity. Turn the door sideways and lower it down through the damper frame.
Measure the damper frame hole opening. and install a Flueblocker that is at least the size of the opening. The Flueblocker is a wool pad with extra hems, so you can trim it down to size with sharp scissors. The Flueblocker Install (image 33-8) example was a 13×35 Flueblocker trimmed to 10″x34″ to fit the hole. Leave the pad a little big for the hole, so it fits in well.
I like to fit the Flueblocker right into the hole of the damper frame. With one lip of the pad edge above the frame, and the other below the frame (image 33-9). This is a very tight seal.
If you want a tight seal, and don’t mind some maintenance, use a Chimney Balloon
33-10: Chimney Balloon Above the Damper
The Chimney Balloon can work well in this application. It generally installs just above the damper frame at the bottom of the smoke shelf (image 33-10) . It gives you a very tight seal, however it is an inflatable. So it is not as durable as the other options. And it requires a top-off on air every 6 to 12 months because of the swings in outside air temperature.
33-11: Measure Above the Damper
Here are the steps to use a Chimney Balloon:
Open the damper as far as you can.
With a folding carpenters ruler or tape measure, get the length and width of the smoke chamber area just above the damper frame (image 33-11).
Buy a Chimney Balloon that is a little large for the application. For example, If you measure 33″L x 13″ W, buy a 36×15 Chimney Balloon.
Lay the Chimney Balloon flat, then fold it in half length-wise (Like a big soft shell taco) away from the handle valve. This will allow you to easily tuck the deflated Chimney Balloon through the damper opening.
When the deflated Chimney Balloon is setting on top of the damper frame, start blowing air into it. The damper frame will hold up the balloon as you inflate, and the belly of the balloon will be pressed against the damper frame. The handle valve will be sticking out of the damper frame opening. (image 33-9)
Once the Chimney Balloon starts grabbing the sides of the chimney wall, do not reposition the balloon. The balloon material has a grabbing property on its outer layer. Moving it while it is grabbing will risk a puncture.
Once it is installed you close the valve on the handle. You can then remove the inflation tube if you want to, or you can leave it hang down as a reminder.